It’s never fun to wake up on a Saturday and find out there are numerous rallies happening across the nation against you.
When for the first time I came across the title of the rally, I got no clue that this could be pointing at some other culture or religion. Then I was astonished to see a video showing a Sikh supporting this rally.
Reclaim Australia outlines its goals on its official website. The eight point manifesto includes the banning of Halal certification, the burqa or any of its variants, and the teachings of Islam in schools.
Explicitly protesting against “halal tax, shariah law and Islamisation”, it’s clear who was being protested against at the Reclaim Australia rallies: Muslims in Australia.
In essence, what Reclaim Australia and others like it are saying is that Muslims in Australia are fine and “loved” – so long as they’re not Muslim. And thus what is missing from all of the debate around these rallies isn’t just any condemnation from our Prime Minister, but an even basic level of clarity.
The placards of some of the protesters at the rallies were not examples of a couple of confused individuals in a group of otherwise well-informed individuals: they were perfectly indicative.
As Sikhs, we understand more than most what it means to be the victims of bigotry, discrimination and incitement because of who we are. It is incumbent on us to have empathy and show support for others who become victims themselves.
The people who are rallying, desire to ban shariah law whilst claiming they have no problems with Muslims. This seems to be based either on a similarly remarkable level of ignorance, or a staggering level of dishonesty.
What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘Sharia law’? Terrorism? Extremism?
Let us try to consider what this might mean. There are five pillars of Islam, which are considered basic religious requirements for practicing Muslims. One of these pillars is giving charity. Does Reclaim Australia think it should be illegal to give charity?
Giving annual charity is part of shariah and a religious obligation. If shariah is banned, does that mean Someone, as a Muslim, cannot give that charity, meaning they have not fulfilled one of the five basic requirements of being a Muslim?
Here is an extract from an interview conducted by SBS with Dr Jamila Hussain, a research associate at the University of Technology Sydney :
“What might surprise most Australians is that most Muslims live according to Sharia everyday of their lives. They live harmoniously. They’re not living in defiance of the Australian law. They’re not seeking to set up a parallel legal system.”
What about prayer, another one of the five practical requirements of being a Muslim? The rules governing ritual prayer, which Muslims must perform five times a day, are governed by shariah. Does this mean I would not be allowed to pray?
Halal Australia, said such a certification is similar to making kosher food.
However, in Australia there is not the same resentment of food approved for Jewish people as there is for Muslims.
This so-called “Islamic tax” is not passed onto Australian consumers, but to the export customers.
“It’s not fair to simply target the Muslims, but unfortunately that is what is happening.”
What about fasting in Ramadan, another religious obligation also covered by shariah laws? Banning Muslims from fasting in Ramadan is not without precedent: the Chinese government already bans numerous Uighur Muslims doing that. Wearing hijab is part of shariah. If you ban shariah, does that mean I cannot wear my headscarf?
Now think about all these being a Sikh – How will you feel if you are denied to wear turban at schools, work or other places in Australia? Is that not a cultural or religious aspect?
Looking more closely at the list, I wondered: what exactly is being threatened? Reclaim Australia wants to keep things safe, though those things aren’t under threat in any meaningful sense. Keep our traditional values? Who wants to ban Easter? Introduce pride in the Australian flag and anthem? Isn’t that something schools already try to do?
Others are more strange. They want to “keep our rights and freedom of speech”, apparently unaware that there is no meaningful protection of freedom of speech (or most other rights) in Australia.
They want to ban Islam in government schools, ban the burqa, make halal certification illegal, or performed by the government. Which in its own way is incoherent – these groups claim that their objection to halal certification is that they have to pay a halal tax on food, but seem to have no problem with costs for halal certification being assumed by the government.
Where do they think revenue for halal certification by the government will come from? And if the government were to certify food as halal – do they think the government wouldn’t hire Muslims to be involved in the process?
It is not wrong to be confused or lacking a rudimentary level of knowledge on something; we all have areas about which we are ignorant or unsure. It is quite another to actively work to ban and destroy something, and with it, the people who adhere to it. Because, make no mistake – that is what is being done here.
You can tie your message of hate and incomprehension in the pretty ribbon of love all you like, the core is still the same.
Sikhism rejects any form of discrimination within and against other religions.
Now We leave it upto you – As a Sikh what you think your obligations are : Support this rally or Challenge this rally???
You Can VOTE as below:[yop_poll id=”6″]